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Andris Nelsons will lead the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, over the course of three performances, each featuring one complete act, in Richard Wagner's music drama 'Die Walküre' this week at Tanglewood. (Photo by Hilary Scott/BSO)

The Classical 'High Season' Approaches Its Summit

By Stephen DanknerGuest Column
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During late July, the classical music festival "high season," anchored by concerts and special events at Tanglewood, approaches its summit, with sure-fire programming.

Offerings this week include great chamber music featuring the renowned Emerson String Quartet joined by Metropolitan Opera soprano Renée Fleming performing a world premiere, "Penelope," by pianist/composer/conductor André Previn; a highly engaging violin/piano recital focusing on the four uniquely captivating violin sonatas of Charles Ives performed by Jeremy Denk and Stefan Jackiw; Maurice Ravel's sonic masterpiece, the "Daphnis et Chloé" ballet with Boston Symphony Music Director Andris Nelsons leading the BSO and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus; and a summer highlight: a cast of stellar operatic soloists in a concert performance of Richard Wagner's music drama "Die Walküre," accompanied by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra under the direction of maestro Nelsons. Read below for the details, including Tanglewood Learning Institute presentations.

Not to be outdone, be sure to check out the programs at Tannery Pond Concerts and the Sevenars Festival – outstanding venues for unsurpassed chamber music.

The place to be for great classical and stimulating new music is right here in our own centrally located, intimate corner of the world - the Berkshires and environs.


• Wednesday, July 24, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: The late André Previn's final composition, "Penelope," dubbed "an opera of sorts" by the composer, with a libretto by celebrated playwright Tom Stoppard, will have its world premiere. Performers include soprano Renée Fleming, the Emerson String Quartet and pianist Simone Dinnerstein. Also on the program is Samuel Barber's String Quartet, Op. 11 – acknowledged and loved for its heartrending slow movement, "Adagio for Strings," which is often extracted and performed separately in its better-known arrangement for string orchestra; Richard Wernick's String Quartet No. 10; and George Walker's "Lyric for Strings."

• Thursday, July 25, 8 p.m., Ozawa Hall: Early 20th century iconoclastic American composer Charles Ives composed four amazing, highly original sonatas for violin and piano over a period of approximately 20 years – the fourth, completed in 1916. It's a rare occasion to hear and assess them all in one recital. The superb performers violinist Stefan Jackiw and pianist Jeremy Denk will interpret these magical works with supreme sensitivity and artistry. This is a program tailor-made for adventurous chamber music enthusiasts.

• Friday, July 26, 8 p.m. in the Shed: The marvelous English pianist Paul Lewis joins Music Director Andris Nelsons and the BSO as soloist in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 12 in A, K.414, one of the earliest of his Viennese concertos, notable for its chamber-music scoring and brief tribute to his mentor Johann Christian Bach. Maestro Nelsons and the orchestra also continue their ongoing Shostakovich symphony cycle with a performance of the Symphony No. 2 - an innovative work that includes a factory whistle and an agitprop choral finale; the Tanglewood Festival Chorus joins the BSO. The chorus also takes part in the final work on the program, Ravel's complete ballet score of "Daphnis and Chloé," a musical monument of 20th century French repertoire and a BSO specialty.

• Saturday, July 27, 8 p.m. in the Shed (Act I); Sunday, July 28, 2:30 p.m. in the Shed (Act II); Sunday, July 28, 6:30 p.m. in the Shed (Act III): In one of the highlights of the 2019 Tanglewood season, Andris Nelsons leads the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra (TMCO), over the course of three performances, each featuring one complete act, in Richard Wagner's music drama "Die Walküre." The TMCO is joined by a cast of the world's finest Wagnerian singers, including soprano Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde, bass-baritone James Rutherford as Wotan, tenor Simon O'Neill as Siegmund, soprano Amber Wagner as Sieglinde, bass Franz-Josef Selig as Hunding, and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe as Fricka. This second installment of Wagner’s monumental four-part epic "Der Ring des Nibelungen," "Die Walküre" is an overwhelming musical, theatrical, and emotional experience, tackling themes of love, family, sacrifice, betrayal, punishment, and mortality - all portrayed on the grandest operatic scale.

Consider enhancing your Wagner experience by visiting for the full schedule of eight highly informative lectures and demonstrations relating to Wagner generally and specifically to "Die Walküre," presented by the Tanglewood Learning Institute (TLI) at the Linde Center – Studio E, Cindy's Café and in Ozawa Hall on Friday and Saturday, July 26 and 27. Speakers include TLI Director Sue Elliot, Wagnerian soprano Christine Goerke, Wagnerian dramatic soprano/vocal mentor Jane Eaglen, pianist/ lecturer Jeffrey Swann, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Special fees apply for these events.

• Tuesday, July 30, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: The superbly poetic pianist Paul Lewis returns to Ozawa Hall and continues his multi-year survey of the music of Haydn, Brahms and Beethoven, performing Haydn's Sonatas Nos. 34 in E minor and 52 in E-flat; Brahms' "Three Intermezzi," Op. 117 and Beethoven's "Seven Bagatelles," Op. 33. Widely hailed for his expressive interpretations of the classical repertoire, Mr. Lewis has released acclaimed recordings of works by all three composers, including a complete cycle of the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas.

Regular-season ticket prices for the 2019 Tanglewood season range from $12-$130, and are available online, through Symphony Charge at 888-266-1200, and at the Symphony Hall Box Office at 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Tickets will also be available for purchase in person at the Tanglewood box office, located at Tanglewood's Main Gate on West Street in Lenox, Mass.

Tannery Pond

Concerts at Tannery Pond, the handsome, intimate and elegant series in New Lebanon, New York and one of the premiere presenters of chamber music in the region during the summer and fall seasons, presents a program featuring the stellar young Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen in a solo recital at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 27. He will be perfo2rming two Suites by Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764); Alexander Scriabin’s Sonata No. 10, Op. 70, and Beethoven’s Sonata in A Major, No. 28, Op. 101.

Tickets are $30 and $39. Call 888-820-1696 or order online. Tannery Pond is located on the grounds of Mount Lebanon Shaker Village and Darrow School, New Lebanon, N.Y., one and a half miles east of the town center on Route 20.

Sevenars Music Festival

On Sunday, July 28, at 4 p.m., Sevenars welcomes illustrious faculty members of nearby Greenwood Music Camp in a program featuring the viola d'amore, with its nationally known proponent Matthew Dane, who will perform Vivaldi's Concerto in D minor; Gregory and Gregory Beaver will join Mr. Dane. Flutist Christina Jennings will also perform.

Informative introductions by Mr. Dane, a leading soloist in the viola d’amore resurgence, will precede the performances. The instrument is one with (in Dane's words) "a sweet, uniquely resonant tone." Repertoire for this concert will include music of Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, and Ariosti. Also included will be a work of the young Indian-American composer Reena Esmail and a composition by violist/composer Garth Knox.

For Sevenars tickets, and general contact information, call 413-238-5854 (please leave a message for return call), or visit the website. Admission is by donation at the door; suggested donation is $20. Refreshments are included. Sevenars Concerts is located at the Academy in South Worthington, Mass., located at 15 Ireland St., just off Route 112.

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